Niche: Special Needs Shopping Carts

Stopping by the grocery store to pick up a quick gallon of milk was never an option for Drew Ann Long. She either had to find a babysitter or wait for her husband to come home. That is because her daughter Caroline suffers has Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes multiple disabilities.

However, it is through her struggle that she was provided with inspiration. She invented a special shopping cart for parents with special needs children.

Caroline’s Cart, which she began designing at her dining room table several years ago, is now gaining fans around the world and piquing the interest of retailers.

It also will fill a void in the market, says Long, who is currently narrowing down manufacturers for the cart and hopes to have them available by the end of the year.

“The more research I did, I realized it wasn’t out there,” she said. “Retailers are providing a variety of carts for their customers … but not for special needs children. There is a huge under-served market.”

After talking about her idea for a couple of years, Long got serious in 2008. She hired a design firm, had a prototype made and met with manufacturers, who offered encouragement and advice.

The shopping cart is equipped with a seat that has a five-point harness and can hold up to 300 pounds. Made with a steel frame and plastic, it’s designed to not flip over and turn easily; the seat also is tilted slightly, which is good for children with low muscle tone.

A video demonstrating the cart after the jump.

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